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Ex-Tyco CEO Kozlowski says he stole out of pure greed

Former chief executive of Tyco International Dennis Kozlowski and wife Karen leave New York State Supreme Court. REUTERS/Seth Wenig
Former chief executive of Tyco International Dennis Kozlowski and wife Karen leave New York State Supreme Court. REUTERS/Seth Wenig

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Disgraced ex-Tyco International Ltd chief executive Dennis Kozlowski, who was granted parole this week after serving an eight-year prison sentence, said simple greed had led him to steal more than $150 million from the company, a transcript of a parole board hearing released Thursday showed.

"It was greed, pure and simple," the 67-year-old former executive told a New York State parole panel at a December 3 video conference hearing. "I feel horrible ... I can't say how sorry I am and how deeply I regret my actions."

The panel granted Kozlowski's parole bid on Tuesday and he is scheduled to be formally released on January 17.

A poster boy for the corporate excesses of the 1990s bull market, Kozlowski went to prison after a trial that featured a $6,000 shower curtain and video of a $2 million party with ice sculptures of Michelangelo's David spewing vodka.

He was sentenced in 2005 to 8-1/3 to 25 years in prison following his conviction on grand larceny, securities fraud and other charges.

At Tuesday's parole hearing, he told the panel he took unauthorized bonuses over three or four years. He said over $100 million went to a deferred income account, "where it sits to this day."

Kozlowski said he tried to "make up for" his crimes by selling homes and liquidating investments to pay $134 million in court-ordered restitution and a $70 million fine.

Kozlowski's share of the restitution was $97 million. His co-defendant Mark Swartz, Tyco's former chief finance officer, paid $37 million.

But the former executive also drew a distinction between his actions at Tyco between 1999 and 2002 and companies such as Enron that went bust in 2001. Enron left thousands of workers without jobs and retirement savings.

"Tyco today is a healthy company," Kozlowski said. "Unlike other companies at that time, nobody lost their 401ks or things like that. That did not happen at Tyco. It's not like Enron."

Kozlowski spent nearly seven years at the Mid-State Correctional Facility, a medium security prison in Marcy, New York, about 250 miles north of New York City, where he worked as a laundry porter.

He has been serving the last of his sentence in a work-release program through the Lincoln Correctional Facility in Manhattan. Since July, he has lived on his own, reporting to a counselor there twice a week, according to the transcript.

Kozlowski told the parole board he was now residing with a woman in an apartment, but her name and the location were redacted from the transcript.

He said he works as a clerk in a software company that helps veterans, former offenders and others get jobs, preparing proposals, proofreading and making copies. He said he does not handle money.

Kozlowski was granted parole after being denied his first bid in April 2012. The board at the time said releasing him early would "deprecate the seriousness" of his crimes and "undermine respect for the law."

Kozlowski's co-defendant Mark Swartz, Tyco's former chief financial officer, also is scheduled to be paroled in January.

(Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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